Personal Hygiene Nonwovens

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Nonwovens

This study covers the United States personal hygiene nonwovens industry, defined here to include materials made from fibers, filaments, and films, which are arranged into webs, batts, or sheets, then bonded together using mechanical, thermal, or chemical means.

Nonwovens are categorized by the web formation process used to produce the material:

  • spunmelt (spunbonded and meltblown)
  • carded
  • wetlaid
  • airlaid

For the purposes of this study, sales of composite nonwovens are broken down according to their constituent web types (e.g., sales of spunbond-meltblown-spunbond are reported in terms of its spunbond and meltblown contents).

Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts to 2024 and 2029 are provided for nonwovens production (total) and demand (by web formation process and by application) in current dollars (which are not adjusted to account for inflation). Total demand is also shown in square meters and in metric tons.

Totals for nonwovens presented in this study include nonwovens sold on the merchant market. Nonwoven goods used in captive production are not included in these data. In addition, the study discusses impacts for COVID-19, pricing trends, competitive products, as well as the global outlook for personal hygiene nonwovens.

Key application breakouts include:

  • infant diapers and training pants
  • adult incontinence products
  • feminine hygiene products
Nonwovens

Applications

Demand for nonwovens used in the production personal hygiene products is expected to increase 1.4% per year to $880 million in 2024, supported by:

  • nonwovens’ well established dominance in personal hygiene applications due to their potential for absorbency and softness
  • strong growth among nonwovens used in adult incontinence products due to the rapid expansion of the senior segment of the population
  • ongoing development of softer, thinner, more absorbent, and more eco-friendly nonwovens, which will raise pricing and market value

However, further gains will be limited by:

  • demographic factors that will restrain demand for personal hygiene products and thus limit the potential market for nonwovens
  • lack of new hygiene applications, since nonwovens are already commonly used in all of these products
  • increasing production of personal hygiene products outside of the US, limiting domestic demand for nonwovens

Imports of personal hygiene products continue to grow, restraining US production of these goods and growth in nonwovens usage domestically. Canada and Mexico account for the largest share of imports.

Nonwovens

Pricing Trends

The average price of personal hygiene nonwovens (calculated by dividing the total value of nonwoven fabrics sold by total area) was 8.1 cents per square meter in 2019.

However, individual product prices vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • pricing for fibers and filaments, binder resins, additives, and other raw materials
  • energy requirements and other costs associated with web formation, web bonding, and other manufacturing processes
  • supply and demand dynamics stemming from different trends in nonwovens production and consumption
  • competition from other types of materials, such as fibers used more commonly in conventional textiles or paper products

Through 2024, average prices for personal hygiene nonwovens are forecast to tick up incrementally as development of higher value nonwovens boosts market value and rising energy prices increase the cost of production.

Nonwovens

Competitive Products

Nonwoven fabrics used in personal hygiene products compete with a variety of other materials – including woven and knit fabrics and plastic and silicone products – depending on the application. The decision to use one material over another is primarily based on both cost and performance considerations. Other factors, including technology and environmental considerations, also can prevent or require the use of a particular material.

In general, nonwovens are valued for their versatility as they more easily engineered for customized performance requirements. Nonwoven fabrics can be made to fit a particular application’s requirements by varying fibers, resins, finishing treatments, and web formation and web bonding processes to provide the appropriate level of absorbency, chemical reactivity, durability, softness, and strength. This flexibility makes nonwovens competitive in a variety of applications.

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